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Communicating with your alumni

Alumni communications keep your alumni engaged with your institution, it can be used to continue their connection and affiliation to the school long after they leave. Communication can take the form of news about school activities, research developments, student life and faculty successes as well as information on alumni events and campaigns being run by the institution.

How much and in what manner to speak to your alumni can be determined by developing a communications plan. A communications plan can help you to target and focus your communications to deliver the right message in the right way.

Key components of a communication plan

  • Who is the audience to whom your communication is targeted? In a general sense, that could be the entire alumni population of your institution. It could also be broadened to include others, or limited to just those who are members of the alumni association.
  • What is the message you wish to convey? Strategic messaging, when executed well, takes the key issues and information concerning the institution and, with clarity, and simplicity translates them into easily accessible message bites.
  • What channels will you use to communicate? Print, web, social media?—make sure that you think about and tailor your message for each medium. Each form of communication also has its own advantages and disadvantages, choose those that are most appropriate for your current needs.
  • When is the appropriate time to send messages, and how frequently will you communicate with your alumni?
  • Why is it important to your mission? What is the mission of your organisation and how will your translate that into ways that your alumni will understand and value.

Once a communication plan has been developed, you can focus on developing your goals and objectives regarding key message development. Advancement professionals must take care to craft their messages in support of the institution’s ideals as defined by its leadership and also meet the needs, wants and ideals of a diverse alumni community.

Alumni magazines in print

Printed magazines allow you a great degree of freedom to tailor your messages effectively. The authoritative nature of print also provides a contrast against the ephemeral nature of online communication. However, they are expensive to produce and rely on having up-to-date details of your alumni for their distribution.

The Footprints Magazine from Lagos Business School Alumni Association produces content that is relevant for their alumni who go on to work in the corporate sector in Nigeria. Articles in Footprints range from the latest developments in the business world as well as information on alumni reunions and events that the institution promotes to keep its alumni engaged with LBS. You can take a look at a selection of issues on the Issuu website.

Covers of Footprints magazine show articles on Nigeria beyond oil and an article on driving a silent revolution featuring a graphic of a viable athlete running

Articles from Footprints magazine featuring articles on smart cities and a reunion event at LBS

Social media

A highly popular and cost-effective means of keeping in touch with your alumni is using a range of social media channels. One of the crucial advantages of this medium is that you are able to engage one-to-one with your alumni. This makes it a valuable tool for building relationships with your alumni, especially with those who have moved abroad and want to stay connected to their alma mater.

In the examples below, notice how each institution has tailored its message for different platforms. Social media platforms and trends change quickly, make sure that you adapt your messages for different channels.

University Of Ghana Alumni Association Facebook page

University Of Ghana Alumni Association - Home | Facebook

University of Ibadan Alumni Twitter Page

University of Ibadan Alumni (@UniIbadanAlumni) | Twitter

Strathmore Alumni Twitter page

Strathmore Alumni Twitter

Lagos Business School Instagram page

Lagos Business School (@lbsnigeria) • Instagram photos and videos

The communications plan was adapted from the chapter ‘Communicating effectively with your alumni’ written by Ralph Amos appearing in the 2nd edition of Alumni Relations: A Newcomer’s Guide to Success, edited by John A. Fuedo and published by CASE in 2010